Summary

In early 2004, the National Research Council (NRC) was commissioned to review the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Project Office (USCPO). Generally speaking, the USCPO exists to facilitate the success of the U.S. CLIVAR project. The USCPO is overseen by the Interagency Group (IAG) which consists of members from the Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Science Foundation (NSF).

The IAG requires the review of the USCPO to evaluate whether it is successfully performing its core functions, which include (1) U.S. CLIVAR project development, (2) staffing for the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC), (3) support for the IAG, (4) international and national CLIVAR project coordination, (5) publicity and publications, and (6) support for the NRC interface. To conduct this review, the committee carefully considered input received anonymously via a web-based questionnaire and directly from the current SSC co-chairs, members of the IAG, the USCPO staff itself, and other relevant parties.

KEY FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Based on the input it received and the committee’s expertise, the committee finds that the USCPO is vital for coordinating U.S. CLIVAR activities and that it should be continued. It is the committee’s assessment that the USCPO is working very effectively despite limited resources and structural impediments. The committee urges that it is important to realize that any additional tasks to be undertaken by the USCPO will require commensurate human and financial resource allocations.

Although the USCPO is doing a commendable job, the committee believes that there are opportunities for enhancing the communication and visibility of U.S. CLIVAR and for developing strategic directions for the near- and long-term future of the USCPO. As such, the committee has provided the following two overarching recommendations, which build on the specific recommendations stratified by the USCPO’s core functions.

  • The USCPO should work to improve communication about the U.S. CLIVAR project to the U.S. CLIVAR community, to the broader atmospheric and climate communities, and to the public. Within the U.S. CLIVAR community, the successes and possibilities of the U.S. CLIVAR project must be better articulated to the IAG members and the needs of the agencies must be conveyed to the SSC in order to realize the full potential of the U.S. CLIVAR project. For the broader atmospheric and climate communities, the scope of the U.S. CLIVAR project and the mapping of the objectives to current activities and publications are necessary to convey what is the U.S. CLIVAR project.

  • The USCPO should develop strategic directions for its near- and long-term future and for the future of the U.S. CLIVAR project. Given the limited resources available for the USCPO, priorities for the allocation of these resources need to be assessed based on these strategic directions. More specifically, some of the key means for the USCPO to ensure its continued success as well as that of the U.S. CLIVAR project are through (1) identifying its interactions and synergies between the goals of U.S. CLIVAR and the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP); (2) finding ways to engage NASA and DOE into the U.S.



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Review of the U.S. CLIVAR Project Office Summary In early 2004, the National Research Council (NRC) was commissioned to review the U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR) Project Office (USCPO). Generally speaking, the USCPO exists to facilitate the success of the U.S. CLIVAR project. The USCPO is overseen by the Interagency Group (IAG) which consists of members from the Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and National Science Foundation (NSF). The IAG requires the review of the USCPO to evaluate whether it is successfully performing its core functions, which include (1) U.S. CLIVAR project development, (2) staffing for the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC), (3) support for the IAG, (4) international and national CLIVAR project coordination, (5) publicity and publications, and (6) support for the NRC interface. To conduct this review, the committee carefully considered input received anonymously via a web-based questionnaire and directly from the current SSC co-chairs, members of the IAG, the USCPO staff itself, and other relevant parties. KEY FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Based on the input it received and the committee’s expertise, the committee finds that the USCPO is vital for coordinating U.S. CLIVAR activities and that it should be continued. It is the committee’s assessment that the USCPO is working very effectively despite limited resources and structural impediments. The committee urges that it is important to realize that any additional tasks to be undertaken by the USCPO will require commensurate human and financial resource allocations. Although the USCPO is doing a commendable job, the committee believes that there are opportunities for enhancing the communication and visibility of U.S. CLIVAR and for developing strategic directions for the near- and long-term future of the USCPO. As such, the committee has provided the following two overarching recommendations, which build on the specific recommendations stratified by the USCPO’s core functions. The USCPO should work to improve communication about the U.S. CLIVAR project to the U.S. CLIVAR community, to the broader atmospheric and climate communities, and to the public. Within the U.S. CLIVAR community, the successes and possibilities of the U.S. CLIVAR project must be better articulated to the IAG members and the needs of the agencies must be conveyed to the SSC in order to realize the full potential of the U.S. CLIVAR project. For the broader atmospheric and climate communities, the scope of the U.S. CLIVAR project and the mapping of the objectives to current activities and publications are necessary to convey what is the U.S. CLIVAR project. The USCPO should develop strategic directions for its near- and long-term future and for the future of the U.S. CLIVAR project. Given the limited resources available for the USCPO, priorities for the allocation of these resources need to be assessed based on these strategic directions. More specifically, some of the key means for the USCPO to ensure its continued success as well as that of the U.S. CLIVAR project are through (1) identifying its interactions and synergies between the goals of U.S. CLIVAR and the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP); (2) finding ways to engage NASA and DOE into the U.S.

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Review of the U.S. CLIVAR Project Office CLIVAR project based on their mission objectives; and (3) stimulating collaboration between U.S. CLIVAR and its sister organizations, such as the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX). ADDITIONAL FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS PERTAINING TO THE CORE FUNCTIONS OF THE U.S. CLIVAR PROJECT OFFICE1 U.S. CLIVAR Project Development The committee anticipates that U.S. CLIVAR will work with International CLIVAR in assessing data management needs, and the USCPO should remain active in this discussion. In the wake of the successful First International CLIVAR Science Conference held in June 2004, the co-chairs of the International CLIVAR Scientific Steering Group intend to produce a document summarizing the key themes that emerged and outlining their vision for corresponding International and U.S. CLIVAR research. The USCPO should encourage this activity and provide support for producing it. Staffing for the U.S. Scientific Steering Committee Although the interaction between the SSC and IAG seems to be working well, largely due to the capabilities of the USCPO Director, Dr. David Legler, there should be more direct communication between the SSC co-chairs and IAG members on issues such as scientific prioritization. Although Dr. Legler is to be commended for his unfailing diligence and hard work, the SSC and IAG should provide more input to him on prioritization of USCPO time and resources, especially given the USCPO’s limited staffing resources. Dr. Legler also should be conscientious about prioritizing his time and declining tasks for which the USCPO does not have the resources to undertake. Support for the U.S. CLIVAR Interagency Group The USCPO should continue taking an active role in identifying gaps in the U.S. CLIVAR project and working with the IAG to find ways to fill them. An effort should be made to promote more active involvement between NASA and U.S. CLIVAR science. NASA IAG members and the SSC must actively work together if this effort is to be successful, and the USCPO should actively participate as the intermediary to increase the chance of success. The USCPO should assist the NASA IAG members with gathering and providing information to NASA management that demonstrates the connections between NASA’s mission and U.S. CLIVAR’s objectives. For example, the USCPO should coordinate documentation of key achievements that were a direct result of satellite data provided by NASA archives. This type of effort should be extended to all the IAG agencies; this will provide them with necessary information that the agency representatives can use to report to their upper management to advertise the utility and success of the U.S. CLIVAR project. If, as expected, U.S. CLIVAR becomes more actively involved in anthropogenic climate change research, then the USCPO should make it a priority to communicate to DOE and the SSC the opportunities this poses to potentially establish a future relationship between DOE and U.S. CLIVAR. To facilitate better tracking of meeting U.S. CLIVAR objectives and to increase awareness about the U.S. CLIVAR project, NOAA and NSF should identify their programs that contribute to meeting U.S. CLIVAR objectives as “U.S. CLIVAR-related,” and they should convey this information to recipients of 1   These findings and recommendations are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 2 of the report.

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Review of the U.S. CLIVAR Project Office related proposals. Correspondingly, the USCPO should undertake budget assessments and tracking by categorizing agencies’ projects as either “U.S. CLIVAR projects” or “U.S. CLIVAR-related projects.” The USCPO should make presentations at the request of the IAG to the agencies’ advisory groups to convey the utility of the U.S. CLIVAR project, including the range of timescales on which U.S. CLIVAR achievements can be made. International and National Project Coordination The USCPO should consult with the SSC and the IAG members to determine the need for and pragmatic ways to (1) foster collaboration between IAG member agencies in CLIVAR-related national and international field experiments and (2) collaborate with its sister organizations. The USCPO should collaborate with the International GEWEX Project Office to organize a session at the International GEWEX Conference to be held in June 2005 to discuss collaborative issues. The USCPO should maintain close interactions with the CCSP office and identify synergies between the U.S. CLIVAR objectives and the CCSP goals, but the USCPO should maintain its focus on activities directly relevant to U.S. CLIVAR. Publicity and Publication There needs to be improved communication about U.S. CLIVAR science to the U.S. CLIVAR community, to the broader atmospheric and climate communities, and to the public. The USCPO can assist with this by (1) continuing its effort to develop a roadmap that will tie together U.S. CLIVAR activities with its objectives; (2) publicizing information about what U.S. CLIVAR and the USCPO is and is not to government agencies, the scientific community, and the public; (3) including a list of peer-reviewed publications that meet U.S. CLIVAR objectives on the U.S. CLIVAR web site; and (4) publishing an annual article about U.S. CLIVAR successes in wide-reaching publications such as the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union’s EOS newsletter. The USCPO should broadly advertise workshops and conferences to attract both U.S. CLIVAR-funded researchers and also those who are contributing to the workshop and meeting topics but who do not receive U.S. CLIVAR funding. The USCPO should assist the SSC in fostering greater participation in coordinated research activities, and provide a roadmap to assist individual investigators in becoming part of CLIVAR. The USCPO should assist the SSC in identifying promising young investigators to fill positions on committees and working groups and in leadership capacities. Support for the National Research Council Interface The committee found that the USCPO is adequately performing the tasks related to this function; thus, it has no recommendations for improvement in this area.

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